Path: ICPP > ICPP 1980 > List of Countries > Albania
Kenneth Janda
Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey
New York: The Free Press, 1980: pp. 758-759
ALBANIA: The Party System in 1950-1956 and 1957-1962
(Text as published in 1980 citation above)

At the end of World War II, a communist regime had already been established in Albania, where local communists, with support from Tito, had fought in the resistance against their Italian and then German occupiers. To 1948, Yugoslavian influence in Albania was strong, with the two countries linked in a customs and monetary union. Koci Xoxe, as minister of the interior and party organizational secretary, was regarded as pro-Yugoslav and the principal rival to Enver Hoxha, prime minister and secretary general of the party, who sought autonomy from Yugoslavia but was held in check by the Yugoslav influence in Albania. But, when Yugoslavia was expelled from the Cominform in the middle of 1948, Hoxha and the anti-Yugoslav faction in the party used this opportunity to move away from Yugoslavia and move against Xoxe and his Tito supporters. Xoxe was expelled from the party and then executed. Albania pulled out of the Yugoslavian orbit and sought ties and protection with the Soviet Union instead, entering COMECON (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) in 1949.

Soviet-Albanian relations blossomed quickly thereafter, as both nations saw the relationship largely in security terms. Albania replaced Yugoslavia as a military outpost for the Soviet Union, and Albania, so protected, was free to criticize Yugoslavia. still perceived as a threat. Tito replied in kind, and relations between the countries were suspended in 1950. Stalin's death in 1953 and the leadership change in the Soviet Union also threatened Hoxha's rule, which dutifully was altered to conform to the principle of collective leadership, with Mehmet Shehu, Hoxha's ally, becoming prime minister. More serious, however, was the Soviet's new tolerance toward communist styles and its implication for Soviet-Yugoslavian relations. Albania soon was urged to improve its own relations with Yugoslavia, and diplomatic relations between the countries were resumed in December 1953. Albania's insecurity was eased somewhat in 1955 with its entrance into the Warsaw Pact, but Hoxha and Shehu were fearful of the de-Stalinization promised by Khrushchev's speech at the 20th Party Congress in 1956. Subsequent developments in Hungry and Poland plus an aborted attempt by pro-Soviets to oust Hoxha and Shehu gave both cause to consider their attachment to Moscow, especially in view of Khrushchev's now explicit effort for rapprochement with Tito.

Despite the Soviet Union's actions in canceling a large debt and opening new lines of credit with Albania in 1957, the Albanian leadership was anxious over its relations with the Soviets and began to look elsewhere for support, which it found from China. The Chinese had already indicated ideological support by denouncing Titoist revisionism and de-Stalinization. As early as 1954, Albania and China had entered agreements for cultural, scientific, and technical cooperation; some financial aid soon followed. By 1957, Chinese financial aid to Albania ranked third behind that of the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. By 1959, the Albanians and Chinese were allied against Moscow on Yugoslav revisionism, global strategy, and de-Stalinization. As the Sino-Soviet dispute broke into the open in 1960, Albania was forced to choose sides and opted for the Chinese. The Soviets attempted to put economic pressure on Albania, but the Chinese concluded an aid agreement that gave her almost what the Soviets and Eastern European countries had promised. Moscow apparently prompted an attempted takeover of the Albanian government in 1960, which was foiled and ended in a show trial of the traitors in May 1961. At the 22nd Party Congress, to which the Albanians had not been invited, Khrushchev called upon the Albanian people to overthrow Hoxha and Shehu, and, in December 1961, the Soviet Union broke relations with Albania, which reacted with bitter personal attacks against Khrushchev. Throughout 1962, Albania played a vocally hostile role against Kremlin leadership and in support of the Chinese, virtually their only defenders within the communist movement

Continuity and Change since 1962

Albania remains a one-party state with the same party since 1950. Its stability score is zero.

Original Party, Continuing

601 Party of Labor. The ALP remains under the leadership of Enver Hoxha, who was 71 years old in 1979.


Albania offers another example of a communist state continuing for decades under leadership of the same person. Such institutionalized personalism promotes stability during the leader's life, but it threatens stability when the leader dies. Because Albania has kept isolated from outside influences, however, the threat of major change in the party system upon Hoxha's inevitable departure seems minimal. Albania is sure to remain a single-party state for some time.

[For party politics since 1962, go to the essay by Kathryn B. Sanderson]

1. Our study of party politics in Albania is based on a file of 297 pages from 40 documents, all of which are in English including 5 translated from Albanian. References to the Albanian Workers' Party (code 601), the only one in our study, appear on 239 pages, constituting 80 percent of the total file. The bibliographic search and indexing of material for the file was done by John C. Thomas. Alan Kaplan used the file to code the Albanian Workers' Party on the variables in the ICPP conceptual framework. Charles Moskos was our consultant.